Thursday, February 3

Top 100 / Best Indie Retro Games on Nintendo Switch

Last Updated: 2/3/22!

Dusk [New Blood Interactive] - When I played just a demo of this well over a year ago at PAX East on the Switch hardware I knew it had massive potential, and playing the release version all I can say is “Bravo!” to the folks at New Blood for their efforts. Don’t let the old school low-poly look fool you, beneath that is a silky smooth FPS experience with level designs that feel both retro and modern somehow, and best of all that will throw some genuine surprises at you that help to get the blood pumping. The recent remaster of Quake was great for the opportunity to revisit a true classic, but I’m also happy to have it fresh in my mind to be confident in saying Dusk manages to run some laps around it that reflect far more capable modern hardware and some evolving gaming sensibilities. Whether playing in handheld or in docked mode this is a dual-wielding (dual shotguns are a rush) shooter that is insane in all the best ways, chock full of more secrets than you could throw a decapitated head at, priced perfectly, and even comes with a little throwback extra goodie demake, Dust ‘82, that plays well in its own right.

Picross S Genesis & Master System Edition [Jupiter Corporation] - If you’re a puzzle gaming fan, you’re probably well-acquainted with the Picross franchise. While the S series on the Switch has made strides to add to and refine the formula from time to time, there’s no doubt getting to be a limit on what new can be introduced to the recipe at this point, as is illustrated with its competition which, aesthetics aside, has roughly landed in the same general space. Throw in classic Sega art and music though, and if you’re a classic gaming fan like I am and this edition easily makes a case for the modest fee of admission just to enjoy being basked in some nostalgia. While I wish more tracks were included it was honestly the music that immediately sucked me in. Given that there are many puzzles that are smaller in scale some of the art elements you’ll reveal can be a bit underwhelming but that’s fine, as you get to bigger puzzles you’ll reveal some great reminders of games from years past that, for fans, are sure to put smiles on faces. If it has become tougher to innovate with new modes I think collaborations like this are a great path for Jupiter to take as they provide value-added content for puzzle fans and celebrate developers and franchises that people hold dear at the same time.

Pinball FX3 [Zen Studios] - While the base game hit the eShop in 2017, the periodic release of new table packs has kept this retro gaming engine very relevant ever since. In particular the acquisition of the rights to produce tables based on the classic pinballs from Williams should make every retro gaming fan very happy. Already having released a handful of packs from that agreement, as well as a few notable original packs of their own, Pinball FX3 will likely handily stay on yearly lists for quite some time.

Shovel Knight: King of Cards [Yacht Club Games] - While I haven’t formally reviewed any of the previous Shovel Knight games I’ve been a quiet fan of the series since it started. Between its lovingly retro look, the team’s ability to infuse new life into mostly established elements and enemies by changing the protagonist’s abilities up each time, and overall smart design the franchise is a master class in great game design and execution. With this last chapter in the series they’ve managed to one-up themselves further by introducing not just the fresh (and somewhat challenging at times) mechanics of the boisterously silly King Knight, but also a full-fledged deck battling card game in the form of Joustus. While there’s, no doubt, some risk in having attention shift between two radically different styles of play since people may strongly prefer one to the other, given the quality of both I think the final product proves to be superior in the end because of the combination. If you’re late to the Shovel Knight party there’s a real feast to be had with the Treasure Trove collecting them all together, but if you’re looking for a stand-alone retro game with variety King of Cards is an excellent choice.

Fez [Polytron Corp] - This far into the Switch lifespan the list of outstanding top-notch indie titles that haven’t yet made it to the platform is dwindling. There’s absolutely no doubt that Fez is one such title that has taken too long to get here and is incredibly welcome. In screen shots it may just appear to be a solid pixel platformer, but that would be woefully underselling it since in reality it’s a hybrid of sorts, allowing and even necessitating your rotating the levels in 3D space in order to reveal hidden secrets, surprises, and challenges that you’ll continue to face in a purely 2D plane in terms of the action. This results in a feel that’s somewhere between an action platformer and a puzzle game at times, and in many ways I’m shocked that as long as the game has taken to get to Switch someone else hadn’t already beaten it to the punch with a similar feel, but nobody really has. Clever, full of heart, and genuinely unique in its gameplay mechanics, Fez may be long overdue on the platform but hasn’t lost any of its very genuine appeal.

Hotshot Racing [Lucky Mountain Games] - With its low-poly look coming straight out of classic Sega arcade titles like Daytona Racing we have Hotshot Racing, and while it may not have incredible depth or nuance damn if it isn’t a whole lotta fun. There’s nothing too complicated, you’ll choose from an assortment of international racers who each have their own flair (I love my boy Viktor), choose which of their cars you prefer, which each are tuned a little differently for variety, and hit the tracks. This is full-on arcade racing, with plenty of bumping and jockeying for position to put your opponents into the wall on turns and then conserving your boost to be sure you can fly across the finish line. The boost-building mechanic, which has you either power-sliding around turns or drafting your opponents who are ahead of you puts just enough technique in the picture to make you work for it and provides a little room for skill and strategy as well. For kicks aside from the main championships the Arcade one-off races can be switched to a cops and robbers mode as well as elimination, helping to provide some variety as well. It’s an absolutely outstanding old-school, fun, and great-looking arcade racer.

ScourgeBringer [Flying Oak Games] - There’s something about ScourgeBringer that deep down brings back my nostalgia for being in an arcade, pumping quarters into a game that consistently kicks my butt yet still puts a smile on my face. Be warned, ScourgeBringer is a tough and intense slashing and shooting experience with runs that will often end too quickly as you just couldn’t get in the groove. What makes it so worth it are those runs where you break out and get on a tear though, getting the right combination of perks and some luck on your side to smash some bosses and prove to yourself that it can be done. Of course meta progression is also a key part of you building success and overall I’d say the pacing of gaining currency to unlock some absolutely vital abilities feels about right, with you at least gaining 1 coin if you can defeat the first sub-boss. It can sometimes take a run or two to then feel comfortable making use of your newfound power but things like your heavy hit deflecting bullets or knocking enemies into each other are incredibly important to have when you’re in the heat of things. None of the above would matter if the game’s engine wasn’t up to the job but in terms of performance, fluidity, and mechanics I really can’t find any flaws with it. If anything some people may find the action too fast, and watching it can be a bit crazy, but when you’re in the moment it’s extremely satisfying how responsive your character is as you dash around the screen slashing, deflecting, stunning, and smashing. ScourgeBringer is yet another roguelike that stands alone with a pretty unique hook and overall flow while delivering a satisfying degree of intensity and challenge that the hardcore set should find compelling.

Killer Queen Black [Liquid Bit] - After having heard so much about this killer multiplayer arcade title I was interested to see what the fuss was all about. While the core of the game is ultimately reliant on playing with as many as 7 other people (4 to a side) in this case the developers have gone the extra mile to ensure it can be played across platforms so availability shouldn’t be as much of an issue as we sometimes see with Switch-exclusive multiplayer titles. One note is that there’s definitely a learning curve, and thankfully there are a multitude of offline tutorials that try to break everything down from the multiple paths to victory, to what roles people can play, to simply learning how to follow what’s going on since things tend to get hectic. While it may feel a bit on the simpler side, depending on your taste, this is a game that just about anyone should be able to pick up and get in to and it absolutely offers up a both a co-op and competitive multiplayer experience that nothing out there can rival.

Star Wars Pinball [Zen Studios] - If you’re either a massive Star Wars or pinball fan you can stop reading the review now and just buy this… rest assured, they’ve got you covered. Falling into the category of maximum, bordering on preposterous, effort, Star Wars Pinball isn’t just a few random tables. It’s an outright collection right out of the gate and represents an amazing value with 19 tables spanning the movies (including the more recent one-shots, for better or worse), TV shows (though, sadly, no Holiday Special), and even popular characters. Rather than phoning it in with relatively generic table layouts and throwing in sound bites to accentuate the action the folks behind the game have made a real investment in trying to imbue each table with unique character, many of them taking full advantage of the virtual nature of the game to concoct tables that wouldn’t be practical (or even possible) in a physical form. That does likely mean that not everyone will love every table but at the same time I applaud the effort and it really does make the depth of the total package remarkable. Throw in a Career mode that tries to include some elements of variety with objectives and challenges to complete and this is a great example of a game package swinging for the fences to deliver the full value of its price of admission.

Horizon Chase Turbo [Aquiris Game Studio] - Oh, to go back to the arcades, hearing the sound of quarters being dispensed from the bill changer, and diving into some classic gaming fun. Horizon Chase Turbo is a love letter to arcade racing greats like OutRun (a personal favorite) but it delivers so much more than that. With its smart pick-ups on the tracks, some great hidden unlocked cars, and more content than I ever would have imagined it's not a nostalgia cash-in, it's a celebration of classic arcade racing that will have you entertained and challenged for many hours if you want to find it all. One of my Top 10 Indie Games of 2018, this is a retro racing gem!

Miles & Kilo [Four Horses] - While sharing quite a bit of DNA with last year's cute retro runner Kid Tripp, Miles & Kilo really refined and nailed things down to produce a satisfying experience worthy of inclusion on this list. Cute, challenging, and well-paced the alternating between the more traditional platforming when playing as Miles and the then it becoming a runner when Kilo is pulling him along keeps things fresh and fun throughout its relatively modest runtime.

Astalon: Tears of the Earth [LABS Works] - I tend to have a love/hate relationship with retro throwback games of various kinds. Sure, I have fond memories of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras but I’d be a fool to claim that many of those titles couldn’t be improved upon when viewed through a modern lens and with current hardware. That said, when a developer manages to nail the “feel” of those games of the past without falling into all of the pitfalls true games from that era tend to have, it can be something pretty special. Managing your party of three heroes, each possessing their own style of attack, stats, and special abilities, you’ll explore some pretty large areas consisting of a variety of rooms connected in various ways. What’s also great is that every time you perish (which will happen, possibly a lot) you’ll be able to spend gems you collect in each run that you can then use to upgrade your characters or enable special abilities with. When you mix this all together the result is a retro title with both an authentic and modern feel in parallel, and a pretty great experience for people who appreciate a well-made throwback experience.

Blizzard Arcade Collection [Blizzard Entertainment] - Before they became Blizzard and released the likes of the WarCraft and Diablo series, among others, the folks at then Silicon & Synapse created a diverse set of 3 very different titles that showed they were set for greatness. Released in a single collection you can now play and appreciate them all in both their original as well as enhanced (how thoroughly varies) forms. Starting with the one I never owned and only rented a few times in theory I should have liked Blackthorne more since it has DNA in common with cinematic adventures the likes of Prince of Persia and Out of This World. You’ll need to run, jump, climb, shoot, dodge, and blow things up in this title, but there’s a stilted sort of quality to your character movement and overall play that never quite did it for me. Still, I know many people with many fond memories of it so I know my opinion isn’t necessarily the popular one. From there things take a big step up in the form of The Lost Vikings, a puzzle platform action title that will have you shifting between your 3 characters who each possess a key skill, with the challenge being using them each properly in each situation in order to progress. Considering it’s a template that went on to inspire many other titles including the popular Trine series it’s a smart title that’s fun and well executed. Saving the best for last Rock N Roll Racing is absolutely one of my favorite games from the SNES era and it’s actually a racing experience I prefer to even Super Mario Kart. Possibly one of the best overall combat racers ever made the fact that Blizzard went the extra mile at some point to give it an upgrade to support widescreen play, to include actual classic rock tracks (with a few new ones added), and to support a 4-player split-screen mode really puts a smile on my face. For retro fans who grew up with these titles or anyone out to see the excellent start the people behind Blizzard had before they hit it huge this is a must-have collection.

Flynn: Son of Crimson [Studio Thunderhorse] - There’s something to be said for games that know what they want to be, even if not necessarily revolutionary in any particular way, and are then executed with a high degree of care and quality. For me Flynn is one such game, adhering closely to the classic 16-bit action platforming template and in general then simply staying the course with a steady stream of new weapons and abilities to keep things interesting through its handful of hours of playtime. Through the use of your weapon-based attacks and magic you’ll work your way through puzzles and a fair amount of combat, with the periodic changes to new zones changing up the enemies and obstacles you’ll face nicely. In terms of the bigger picture, both in terms of the narrative and overall design, perhaps the more paint-by-SNES-era-numbers essence of the game holds it back from being a truly inspired stand-out title. However, if you’re a fan of the era it undoubtedly emulates some of the best it had to offer and feels both retro and just a bit satisfyingly modern at the same time on Switch, making the odds of it being a hit with genre fans pretty solid.

Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut [Clifftop Games] - While there have been a great number of LucasArts-esque point-and-click adventure titles on Switch, not all of them have been created equal. While many get the pixel art, quirky dialogue choices, and unorthodox use of items to solve puzzle elements right, it turns out a form of gameplay created on a platform that uses a precision pointing device hasn’t always translated well into using console controls. Among its achievements, I’d actually consider this to be Kathy Rain’s greatest strength, its method of letting you move around and then select highlighted elements to interact with relative to where you’re standing both intuitive and generally effective. Add on a fair amount of attitude, an interesting story, and what are generally sensible puzzle solutions (though you’ll undoubtedly resort to trial and error eventually, most of the time the space you’re working in at least keeps it contained) and this is a definite one to consider for classic adventure fans.

Steel Assault [Zenovia] - Run-and-gun shooters were absolutely a consistent staple in the arcades and on consoles back in the day, and that puts a certain amount of pressure on developers in the current day to do anything that feels new and exciting. What’s great is that sometimes just small things can really make a difference and the grapple in Steel Assault quickly became the star of the show for me. Giving the game a feeling that sits somewhere between a classic shooter like Contra and the beloved Bionic Commando, there’s just something refreshing about the flow of this game that’s very satisfying. That’s not to say that, by any means, it’ll be an easy run. You can expect to crash and burn quite a bit, with the expectation being that you’re really on top of how best to use your grapple quickly and effectively even while under fire, and that can sometimes require some diligence to get through tough spots. I think the challenge is also exacerbated a little by checkpoints that sometimes feel a little spread out, though conceptually they usually make sense and some areas are simply bigger and tougher than others. While in terms of raw content the game technically isn’t a very long one, getting to the point where you’ve got the skill and experience to be able to blow through it all will take some time, making this a great challenge for classic arcade fans.

UnMetal [@unepic_fran] - While we hardcore types love our games, that isn’t to say that when confronted with examples of the silliness we regularly accept without question we can’t have a good laugh. It’s in that spirit that UnMetal has been forged, aping the style, story, and tropiness of many classic games and movies only to then crap all over much of it… and if you’re like me that’s when hilarity ensues! The action plays out to match the story your raspy-voiced anti-hero is sharing with his interrogator, trying to explain the events that led to his current incarceration. This setup is really the critical component in the game’s humor, with the interrogator regularly stopping everything to ask an obvious question or make a pointed observation about the ridiculousness of everything that just happened or was said. Obviously having its sights set primarily on the classic Metal Gear series, the gameplay is generally very retro and arcade-y in nature but just decent, it’s really the sense of humor and the game giving you room to be outrageous that elevates it all to a different level. Perhaps if you don’t have room to laugh at the forms of entertainment you enjoy this will be a wing and a miss, as may be the case if you’re unwilling to giggle at some of the more crass humor that the game revels in. That said, if your goal is to play along and be entertained, UnMetal stands out as a game filled with laughs that will keep you playing along just to set up the next joke.

198X [Hi-Bit Studios] - As a child of the 70s and 80s who spent an enormous amount of time in the arcades there’s no doubt 198X was made for me. I’m just getting my bias out of the way so you can take into account how it may color my generally positive perception of the game. In essence the game is a blend of the beginnings of the story (it is meant to be the first chapter in a bigger narrative) of Kid, a teenager approaching life’s crossroads and feeling the limits of the town they’re living in. With the discovery of a local arcade, and through the exploration of 5 different retro-styled games, that perspective begins to shift, providing confidence and vision of new possibilities. While perhaps it’s a bit frustrating how briefly you’ll be able to enjoy the title’s loving recreation of multiple classics and genres there are moments I had playing through them that helped me reconnect with the wonder of the experience of the arcade, not just as a collection of games to play but as a physical place that was somehow special. I’m absolutely looking forward to what is yet to come in future chapters and I would imagine anyone with a long-standing connection and affection for games will enjoy this celebration of arcade culture.

Ghost Grab 3000 [Matt Glanville] - While I have a great appreciation for epic games that feature massive worlds and complex storylines for me to discover over many hours since I grew up in the arcades I also appreciate a tight experience that challenges me and is fun in bursts. With its relatively-simple ghost chaining mechanics and simple-but-smart controls Ghost Grab 3000 does a great job of scratching that retro itch and making me say “Just one more round”. Your goal is to catch ghosts bouncing around the screen in your beam and then zap them. Sure, you could do this one at a time but first it wouldn’t be very fun and second you’d get a sad and paltry score for that effort. The way to rack up points is to chain as many together as possible before you collect but that ends up making for a very crowded and chaotic screen full of roving enemies and their many bullets. Thankfully you have a trusty dash that makes you temporarily invulnerable and a limited number of EMP blasts at your disposal which can be used to get yourself out of jams and rack up as high a score as possible. It’s all just about the leaderboards and scoring as high as you can in the end but if you’re looking for a quick and challenging fix it’s an excellent choice at a very low price.

Huntdown [Easy Trigger Games] - As a fan of old school shooters and beat-em-ups of all persuasions perhaps it was inevitable I’d be a Huntdown fan. Thrown into an effort to bring down various gang factions in your futuristic city you’ll take control of one of three different officers in an attempt to bring down the bad guys. Hoo boy, and as it goes on will you need to work for it. I think it got off to a rocky start for me, not quite feeling as fluid in the controls and versatility for aiming as I’d like but growing on me with its tone and general style. Things are going to get tough, gritty, and downright bloody as you try to shoot and beat your way through enemies. Capped off with a battle against one of the sector bosses, the general length of stages hits a nice sweet spot, giving you time to get your groove on without generally overstaying its welcome. Bosses are quite varied, and at times this can mean they don’t get tougher on a consistent curve so much as be unpredictably easy or tough, but at least they pose a challenge. Borrowing both visual and gameplay elements and beats from diverse arcade titles of the past, Huntdown feels both familiar and fresh, I just would wish for the initial curve to be a bit less steep to allow a wider audience to not hit a likely wall quite so early.

Panzer Paladin [Tribute Games] - While I have a great deal of nostalgia for the 8-bit era since I played a ton of games back in those days, going back can be a bit rough. While there’s an undeniable essence to many classics of that generation their gameplay typically hasn’t aged well. Indie titles looking to recapture that time often seem to struggle to find the balance, working to incorporate many vintage elements while marrying them with modern sensibilities… and the results have varied pretty wildly in all directions. Panzer Paladin, for me, stands out from this crowd quite a bit, not even loosely based on any firm precedent from the era I can think of and thus unburdened by expectations. The result is a game that absolutely respects the looks, sound, and many staples of 8-bit gaming and yet feels contemporary most critically in terms of its weapon variety and challenges. One element retro fans of the likes of the Blaster Master series will recognize is the smart inclusion of an ability to jump out of your mech and work on foot, leaving you vulnerable but still very capable (as I learned completing some boss fights with my mech ruined but determined with my whip to finish the job). The hunt for secret areas, weapons, and boosts is rewarded with a fair degree of consistency and in some stages you’ll find you may need the help, especially in terms of being geared up for the game’s generally tough boss battles. In terms of games celebrating the 8-bit era I’m quite confident in declaring Panzer Paladin the king of the retro hill as it somehow feels both old school and modern in the same breath, coming up with a mix of elements that keep the action consistently engaging with no real fat to be trimmed. It’s a high-quality effort from top to bottom.

Rigid Force Redux [com8com1 Software] - When it comes to shmups on Switch the tendency is to see either games that tap firmly into nostalgia, adopting classic looks and play styles, or those that innovate and do things their own way. What I think makes Rigid Force Redux notable is that moreso than any other shooter I’ve played on Switch it feels like it manages to carefully walk the tightrope smack dab in the middle of those concepts. While it has primary and secondary weapon pick-ups as well as a general structure with elements reminiscent of the classics, the ability to reconfigure the position of your drones tightly forward, in a wider spread, or then behind you opens up new challenges and some surprises to help make things feel fresh. Granted, though not unusual for shooters of these types, when it comes to overall length the campaign is over faster than you’ll want it to be, and while you can then chase high scores afterwards it’s the breaking of new ground and the unexpected that provides more of the thrills, the rest can be fun but lacks that same spark. If you’re a fan of the genre you should find this to be a smart and fun experience, and more importantly for more casual fans who find the likes of bullet hells to be too intimidating the degree of challenge here is more mild and accessible, making it an appealing all-around package for just about anyone.

Sky Racket [Double Dash Studios] - This is one of those games where with the elevator pitch alone I was revved up and ready to go. A retro-styled mash up of shmup bullet dodging and breakout? Where do I sign up? Fortunately, though granted the experience isn’t necessarily a long one (and I’d say it’s a mistake not to have online leaderboards to encourage people to replay stages to compete on scores), Sky Racket’s execution justifies the excitement. Not only does it look like a long lost title from the 16-bit era, there’s just a whimsical quality to it that lines up with that time as well, making it feel like a bit of a lost classic. I’d say the experience is equally good solo or with a friend, though paired you’ll probably want to be sure your skills are at least comparable to keep some frustrations at bay. If you’ve been bemoaning there simply not being enough innovation in the market you owe it to yourself to partake of this great and unique indie gem.

Super Crush KO [Vertex Pop] - Early in the Switch lifespan, when the pickings were sometimes a bit more thin, there were some core Nindie titles that helped occupy my time. Among my favorites was the very distinct high-score-chasing space shooter Graceful Explosion Machine which encouraged repeated play as I’d try to get top ranks and a few rungs higher on the leaderboards for every stage. Who knew the same core concepts of multiple attack styles, a sense of flair, and a scoring system that pushes you to keep changing things up would work so well in a beat-em-up? Apparently the folks at Vertex Pop did! Very similarly to GEM I love the flow of things, and how you need to continually improvise not only to keep out of harm’s way but also in order to chain more and more attacks into your combo. It can be almost meditative when you’re in the zone, dodging, dashing through bullets, throwing uppercuts, and even shooting. In terms of raw stages, much like GEM there aren’t a ton to get through, but the joy here is in revisiting and climbing the online leaderboards, and for that this game crushes it.

Duck Game [Landon Podbielski] - As long as you’re able to find people to play with whether locally or online Duck Game one of the best multiplayer experiences you’ll find on the system. It’s diverse, deep, has many times the volume of content you’ll find in any of its competitors, and it maintains a brisk pace whether in the match or loading the next stage. While some AI ducks to fill in gaps or quack against would help provide a little extra longevity or fun when you’re on the go, there’s still no denying that Duck Game is at the top of the Switch multiplayer food chain.

Jamestown+ [Final Form Games] - The Switch has most certainly been blessed with a wide variety of excellent shmups since its release and with the release of Jamestown+ there’s now another strong contender on the pile. With an unusual alt-history story, a variety of unlockable ships whose style changes the gameplay pretty substantially, and a very consistent challenge no matter what the stage it really delivers. For some added fun and challenge throw a few friends onto the pile and it can make for a screen full of chaos and fun, for sure. If your tendencies are towards a more classic arcade shooting experience, moreso than its competition Jamestown+ has elements that are fresh but are still very rooted in  that overall feel, and it very much delivers reliably consistent and challenging gameplay to boot.

Pang Adventures [DotEmu] - Doing a remake or remaster for a classic game can be a tough task. Fail to respect the original sufficiently and the purists will begin squawking loudly. Fail to innovate and you’ll get hit by another camp. Being successful means finding a balance of the needs of both sides and Pang Adventures does this admirably. There’s no mistaking this is all about popping bubbles classic Pang style but whether solo or with a friend there’s enough new stuff here to keep retro gaming fans happy and challenged for a little bit.

Marble It Up! [Marble It Up, LLC] - I'm a massive fan of the arcade classic Marble Madness as well as a fan of Sega's Monkey Ball games so Marble It Up! was a lot of fun to check out this year. While it may not have loads of content the degree of challenge will probably keep less hardcore gamers from conquering it all too quickly. Throw in some diabolical hidden secrets that take some serious work to obtain and it's a very unusual type of game that controls well and is a lot of fun to play.

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection [Digital Eclipse] - If you're a big fan of classic arcade games you've probably heard of or even get nostalgic for a fair number of games featured in this collection. From the iconic shooters in the Ikari Warriors series to unique titles like Athena and Vanguard vintage arcade gaming is well-represented. On the classic console side the inclusion of Crystalis should excite as well. Wrap that all up with a chronology of press materials and facts about the company and its games over the years and it's a package retro lovers should appreciate.

Super Hydorah [Locomalito] - While inspired by the classics like R-Type and Gradius, Super Hydorah has a great feel and style all its own. You're able to choose your path at specific branches, though there's nothing stopping you from backtracking to grab more enhancements. You'll then need to carefully consider your loadout for each stage since each has their own challenges and there's no single solution that best addresses them all. A great mixture of retro play and modern sensibilities.

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King [Castle Pixel, LLC] - Perhaps a little less gaining inspiration from the classic top-down Zelda titles like Link to the Past than copying it outright, Blossom Tales is an excellent game to help hold you over until the Virtual Console arrives. Cleverly playing out as a grandfather tells his granddaughters a story about a brave hero, Lilly, the focus is on taking most of the classic Zelda weaponry and then adding some more unique items of its own if you're willing to search them out. Thoroughly satisfying for the price of admission, Blossom Tales plays like a ""lost"" Nintendo title.

Blaster Master Zero 3 [Inti Creates] - One of the surprise redux hits in this generation has been the return of the Blaster Master series with the Zero titles, which have managed to carefully respect the essence of the original game while fleshing elements that were less notable out further. Considering the very reasonable price point, this is a pretty great retro action adventure with varied challenges… though also maybe feeling a little redundant in terms of play at this point. However, this title completes a sort of trilogy story arc in a satisfying fashion if you’ve been following the previous two titles, and continues to ramp up the relative level of difficulty from the other two titles as well. But for people new to the series it may be more ideal to go back to the first, see how it goes, and then work from there rather than jumping in on this last chapter since otherwise you may be a little lost in terms of the story and mechanics that are a bit taken for granted as understood at this point.

Centipede: Recharged [SneakyBox] - Taking classic arcade titles and trying to give them new life in the modern era tends to be a challenge, and I’ve definitely seen both great successes and utter failures to date on the Switch. While Centipede may not be near the top of my list of favorites from the early arcade era, I did spend a significant amount of time playing it both in the arcades and on my trusty Atari 5200 back in the day. Recharged absolutely makes the right moves to honor the basics of the game and give it a push towards being more modern with a pretty wide array of power-ups that absolutely change up your strategy depending on what you happen to get. Scorpions and fleas absolutely remain your worst enemies, poisoning mushrooms that will send any centipede hurtling down towards you and continually spamming new mushrooms onto the screen respectively. In addition to the enhanced classic arcade mode there are a number of challenges as well that build specific scenarios to survive, which is a nice touch. About my only complaint is that the soundscape of the game is so ordinary and honestly pretty quiet, the sounds of the various enemies in the original title were outright iconic and were essential to building the classic arcade wall of cacophony. The lack of their inclusion, or even at least subtle nods to them, is a disappointment as they would tip you off to what was coming. A minor criticism perhaps, but it’s one critical area that should have been honored to put a cherry on top of this otherwise rock solid arcade update.

Filmechanism [Chemical Pudding] - It’s always great to see smart puzzle games that deliver play that hasn’t been run into the ground and that provide the opportunity to get some help when needed. Mashing together puzzle platforming, old-school box pushing, and the ability to capture elements where they are and restore them to those positions later gives Filmechanism plenty of opportunity to keep its challenges fresh as you go. The opportunity to simply take the normal easier path, or one of two tougher paths, helps to give everyone a chance to enjoy the experience, and if you’re determined to take them all there’s also plenty of content. Wrap it all up with a great vintage presentation that is more than adequate and even a usable hint system to help you when you get stuck and it’s a well thought out package that’s ideal for puzzle fans of all skill and experience levels.

G-Darius HD [Taito Corporation] - It’s always a bit tough to evaluate re-releases of classic arcade-style shooters coming to the system. Even being remastered or improved in some way they’re obviously not particularly new, and familiar franchise gameplay can also tend to fall flat at times. Even with those sentiments in mind G-Darius HD exceeded my expectations, being an iteration of the classic Darius games I’d never played and, aside from making some use of decidedly early polygonal graphics for its bosses, its style of play and flow is a nice change of pace for me. Rather than merely having the traditional screen-clearing “bomb” attack common to traditional shooters you instead have the ability to try to enlist an enemy craft to your aid, adding a layer of challenge, risk, and sometimes excitement to the mix when you’re able to wrangle something a bit more powerful to your side. Add in the classic branching path structure and a fairly high degree of challenge and the replayability if you’re a shooting fan will also likely be well-fed. After a string of decent arcade-style shooter translations that have been more for nostalgic value than consistent fun G-Darius HD feels like a solid choice all-around.

Inspector Waffles [Goloso Games] - Maybe I’m just a sucker for a regular stream of puns when they’re dangled in front of me often, but having played quite a number of point-and-click adventures on Switch that started strong but then lost steam, Inspector Waffles managed to be an entertaining treat. Sure, the silly version of detective noir has been done, and plenty of cat and dog humor has been done as well even, but there’s some charm here mixed with a well-implemented interface that really works. You’ll pick up the flow of how things work pretty quickly, be asked to collect a reasonable number of items from the environment, and then work out various puzzles requiring either straight or combined use to progress… and, for the most part, in general it’s pretty smooth sailing while keeping you amused throughout. The low-res pixel style does have it suffer at times for clarity in what you may be picking up or interacting with, but as a whole this is a well-designed adventure that feels quite at home on the Switch.

Jetboard Joust [BitBull Ltd] - As an old-school arcade fan I'll admit I've been a big fan of indie titles that have come to the Switch putting a twist on classic gameplay. Jetboard Joust undoubtedly cribs heavily from the likes of Defender from back in the day in particular, but by adding roguelike elements, different weapons, and even bosses it differentiates itself quite nicely. Make no mistake, this won't be easy at first, even if you're familiar with the general mechanics of trying to keep innocent people from being grabbed by enemy craft and flown to the top of the screen... then turning into more formidable foes you'll need to deal with. The alternative weapons are different enough from one another that I'd imagine people will have strong opinions about their most and least favorite, and I appreciate the way they can change how you play and add a wrinkle of strategy to the mix as well since their ammo is limited. This won't be a game for everyone but for a budget-friendly price anyone who appreciates classic arcade games and a challenge should absolutely pick it up!

Mighty Goose [Blastmode] - As a classic arcade shooting fan the Metal Slug series has always had a place in my heart for its intensity, variety, and explosive fun. If you take that formula, throw in some modern bells and whistles like selectable upgrades and sidekicks for help, and then make the protagonist a honking hero you get Mighty Goose! Calling it a bit bonkers would be an understatement, as it manages to be silly, chaotic, challenging, and a lot of fun all at once. You can expect a variety of powerful weapons, vehicles that amp up your damage (and the fun), power-ups, and tough boss fights along the way as well as explosions everywhere most of the time. That does, at times, come at the cost of clarity, I’ll admit, as some of the battles fill the screen with so much chaos that staying alive can be a challenge, but there are patterns to pretty well everything and more often than not the key is keeping an eye out for health packs to grab when the time is right to keep yourself in the fight. It’s rare that games that look to emulate the classic Metal Slug series do it justice, but Mighty Goose has managed to do just that and is a honking good time to boot.

NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 1 [SNK Corporation] - While I used to have nearly every Nintendo handheld system and enjoyed both of the ones from Sony as well I was never inclined to take a chance on the Neo Geo Pocket. Now, many years later and getting to check out some of its prime titles on the Switch, I’m finding that I may have really missed out. This collection is busting at the seams with great and honestly quite diverse fighting games first and foremost, including my favorite from the system, the roster-heavy SNK Vs Capcom: The Match of the Millenium. Joining it are titles from the Fatal Fury, The Last Blade, King of Fighters, Gals’ Fighters, and Samurai Shodown series as well, making for a fighting fans nirvana of sorts as you’ll be shocked at how well the controls and game feels were translated onto a 2-button system. As if that weren’t enough then pile on the somewhat unusual Dark Arms, a solid golf title, AND 2 Metal Slug games and it’s simply an incredible collection of content that demonstrates the system featured some truly amazing software.

Olija [Skeleton Crew Studio] - With it’s very retro pixelated look you could walk into Olija expecting a similarly old-school experience, but you’d be wrong. That isn’t to say there isn’t some vintage essence to be found, the way the somewhat limited narrative is presented feels reminiscent of older times, as does the level design that will require careful exploration and perhaps some leaps of faith at times. You’ll be pushed to experiment and work out platforming puzzles but this is rarely a stumbling block, more often it’s just a great excuse to take advantage of its pretty solid mechanics and fluid style. Olija is an unusual title that somewhat defies simple explanations, effectively mixing the feel of old school cinematic adventure with sometimes tense combat and plenty of smart platforming as well. The result is a refreshing oasis in the typical doldrums of the early part of the year.

Quake [MachineGames] - OK, so I don’t think anyone needs to tell you that Quake is one of the most influential first-person shooters of all-time. Sure, id and 3D Realms originated the genre with the likes of DOOM and Duke Nukem but Quake brought the genre screaming into the full 3D space for the first time full of intensity, a killer soundtrack, revolutionary multiplayer, and quality level design that even holds up reasonably well today. As for the port itself to Switch I’ve never really played the game looking and feeling better. Visually it’s crisp and clean, the action is fluid and pretty well flawless, and aiming using the dual sticks feels almost as accurate as my old school preferred mouse (well, in my case a trackball) and keyboard. My one complaint may just be that I wish the music was more raucously loud to help fully transport me back in time, but that’s obviously incredibly minor. I did debate whether or not this could even remotely be considered an “indie” title but with it being thoroughly and lovingly retro and showing up on the eShop at all of $10 full-price I’ve made that call and will stand by it. If you consider yourself a FPS nut, or even have a modest interest in the preservation of cornerstone titles in the history of video games this is absolutely worth owning and appreciating.

Raiden IV x MIKADO Remix [Moss] - With an abundance of retro shooters on the Switch it can be a challenge to differentiate them, but for old school arcade fans the Raiden name should be enough to grab some attention alone. Fully bringing a well-made, intense, and gorgeous arcade shooter to Switch is thankfully within the capabilities of the developers and the system and, though tastes in shooter styles may vary, this remix brings great gameplay as well as some variety in spades across its varied modes. Granted, if you were expecting any sort of deviation from the core classic series in terms of power-ups or style you’d be disappointed, but if you’re looking to recapture some great feels of the classic arcade get yourself a Switch Grip (so you can play it vertically, as the universe intended), load this up, and jump into the craziness.

Retro Highway [Gearhead Games] - I’ll admit the first thing that completely drew me in with this game was the look of the road racing itself, completely putting me in the classic OutRun space. What was terrific though was how it delivers a pretty unique but compelling (and often challenging) arcade-like experience, having to weave through traffic, hit jumps, grab power-ups, and simply do whatever you can to avoid crashing and burning. In a very mobile-esque sort of twist a variety of objectives will encourage you to challenge yourself with avoiding coins, some near-misses, and more which helps to keep each run from being overly predictable. Throw in different bikes and locales that play quite differently and this has plenty of fuel in the tank for satisfying play to go with its budget-friendly price tag.

Alwa's Legacy [Elden Pixels] - Games that aspire to capture the look and feel of earlier eras can be a mixed bag, but when executed well can be quite a treat. Alwa’s Awakening was a rock solid entry in that vein, providing a challenge and plenty of great puzzles and boss fights with a vintage 8-bit look. With Legacy we’ve now moved into the 16-bit era and an overall look that’s appropriately far more vibrant and genuinely beautiful in places. With a small collection of spells you’ll acquire relatively quickly the game will challenge you to make smart use of them, both for conquering what can sometimes be tricky puzzles and platforming challenges (especially if you want to grab everything) and taking on some tough bosses as well. I would say more often than in most games I got into dead ends where I needed to more quickly understand I wasn’t meant to try to complete that area just yet, but some of that is due to a style of defying the obvious path. While sharing a whole lot of DNA functionally with its predecessor Alwa’s Awakening, Legacy ups the ante with a terrific 16-bit makeover and some new and worthy challenges.

Batbarian: Testament of the Primordials [Unspeakable Pixels] - What’s interesting with indie games is their consistent ability to seem familiar at first but then consistently surprise you by defying expectations. Barbarian is one such title, having the look and initial feel of an old school Metroidvania from the 16-bit era but then upping the typical game in the areas of puzzles and the number of secrets to be found. I was pretty well amazed in just the first few hours how many secrets were just hinted at that I gave a shot, thinking like it is in many games that it was just me being too eager to find something cool, but then finding my instincts had been right. For me there’s just something highly satisfying about that and I found myself spending as much time trying to find secrets as worrying about progress. As can be the case with the genre, getting lost can be an issue as you try to squeeze out everything there is to find and then get back on the main track. However I didn’t generally find myself backtracking too far in most cases and that kept the game from dragging as you need to get around as some games do. While perhaps it may not quite be a must-have experience I’d expect genre fans will find it to be a consistently pleasant surprise.

CrossCode [Radical Fish Games] - Where CrossCode excels is in its scope and ambition. The game world is large, relatively varied, and absolutely crawling with people moving around (the game world is set in an MMO so this makes perfect sense) so it all feels pretty alive. Combat is roughly in the middle of the road, certainly delivering on some intensity and the option to focus on ranged or melee combat, but on the whole lacking in real variety even as you play with your Circuit points and try different builds. Puzzles are also a mix of good and bad, and in effect they’re everywhere. The ones involving crystals you’ll need to hit are smart and a bit reminiscent of Zelda, so those are generally positive. Less endearing are any that involve making jumps between platforms of different heights. It being a 2D game and there being a very poor sense of depth in many cases these segments, more often than not, felt like a real waste of time as too often you’ll need to work them out by trial and error since visually things can be ambiguous at best. When it comes to the economy, equipment, and trading, honestly the less I say the better because truly it is an over-cumbersome hot mess and a waste of time. Going from vendor to vendor to convert A and B to C, which you can then combine with F from combining D and E from another vendor, to finally create G… it quickly gets annoying. The sheer volume of quests you can go on, but that generally aren’t in any way distinct or interesting aside from kill this or get that (with very little veneer of purpose to go along with them), also fall a bit into the “kitchen sink” category for me. If your goal is to get the most game out of your investment, CrossCode absolutely delivers in that regard, but I’d say the more people hold it up against the 16-bit classics it was obviously inspired by the worse it plays out by comparison.

Ministry of Broadcast [Homeless Unicorn] - Harkening back to earlier days with a gameplay style reminiscent of the likes of classics like Prince of Persia, Ministry of Broadcast is a throwback I can really appreciate. While that meticulous style matching up action with precision may result in quite a bit of trial and error death at times within a few attempts in general all action puzzles are conquerable and that makes figuring them out and getting it right quite rewarding. The fact that the game takes on a sort of 1984-meets-The-Running-Man approach where it comes to the story helps make the sequences flow together to a degree and can be pretty entertainingly morbid and twisted at times, further reinforcing the experience. As an English major I’ll admit that some of the in-game text can get clunky, and that made me cringe a bit, but perhaps it also adds some layer of unrefined charm for the right folks as well so it may just be me. Having played a few remade titles from that earlier era on Switch it’s also refreshing to now see modern stabs at that same style of play, and I hope to see more in this vein if they can be executed as effectively.

Oddworld: New n Tasty [Square One Games] - While the Switch has had some entries from the Oddworld series that have dabbled in a variety of styles of play, most of them at best only moderately successful, New n Tasty marks their return to the original… though thankfully in gussied up redux form. You’ll control Abe as he desperately tries to escape and share the truth (reminiscent of Soylent Green) with his brethren. Mechanically true to the original the controls take some getting used to since this isn’t a straight action platformer but instead a puzzle platformer with some movement and controls that are more like Abe’s following your commands on a broad level, perhaps even after taking a few drinks. There are places where this can absolutely be frustrating but the style harkens back to earlier times and classics like Prince of Persia or Out of This World among others so it is an understood style of control, just one that perhaps now feels more dated than ever. Regardless there’s some craft and charm in the polished look and silliness of the whole affair and it does do a good job of justifying how the original was able to start up a franchise with its weirdo charm.

Pixboy [Oaky Games] - As I saw someone note on Twitter the other day, responding to my post about this game: It seems almost impossible to believe that, on a far more powerful modern console, there are people thirsting to return to a game that looks and plays like it is from the original Gameboy hardware. Perhaps it seems like an unusual thought, and yet here we are. But hey, if the games can all be so easy on your bank account, convey a classic sense of gameplay the likes of Super Mario Land and some others, and also throw in a fairly high degree of challenge in places that will make you grit your teeth a bit... bring it on. Pixboy may not have the novelty of various means of getting around in order to vary the style of play, but what it does have are some fun and tricky stages with plenty of jumping, hidden areas, and some real nuance as you master not just your jumps but the art of falling, compliments of your parachute. What it lacks in overall length it makes up for in pretty rock solid stage design, crisp controls, secret nooks and crannies aplenty, and authentic old-school platforming play.

Serious Sam Collection [Croteam] - As time has gone on the first-person shooter genre has gone through quite a lot of changes and evolution, generally moving from simply being all about blowing through hordes of enemies and trying to add in either story elements or genre mixes to help it become a bit more elevated. Then there are titles like the Serious Sam series that are pretty well determined to stay in place and revel in the simplicity of carnage and crazy-ass enemies to blow apart… and as this collection proves that can still work when it’s handled correctly. You’ll be able to enjoy all 3 titles in the Sam trilogy as well as the DLC add-ons for the last of the series and follow Sam from his beginnings killing in the desert, then to more tropical locales, then to wrecked cities, and more while dispatching a host of weird and generally unique foes using an arsenal ranging from the more ordinary to the ridiculous. Granted, at times Sam feels like he’s trying a bit too hard to imitate Duke Nukem in terms of his one-liners and bits of dialogue but for the most part the style and feel of the action is at least distinctive. Yes, there are more evolved shooters on the platform without a doubt, as well as some AAA shooters that appropriately carry a higher price tag, but if you’re just down to blow stuff up on a budget it’s hard to argue there’s a better overall value on the system.

Space Invaders Forever [Taito Corporation] - Retro remix collections tend to be a mixed bag, but for fans of arcade classics even though not every title in Forever is equally compelling it still delivers the goods. What I’d consider the weakest link in the package is novel Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, though I will give it credit for being the most novel in the bunch since it does support up to 4 players who can play a wide screen and more varied version of the classic game complete with some unexpected modes and tough boss battles. In the middle there’s the carryover from the mobile space, the very well-made Arkanoid Vs. Space Invaders which you’ll play vertically using the touchscreen. The combination of these two classic franchises actually works quite well, and the addition of different characters that then have varying abilities keeps things fresh through quite a bit of content, but there’s no missing the original mobile game DNA that exhibits itself in a variety of ways. The crown jewel of the package by far is Space Invaders Extreme though, which I have very fond memories of enjoying on my PSP back in the day. The varied levels, branching paths, crazy modes, and colorful overall presentation absolutely make this one of my favorite retro reduxes of all time. If you’re a big fan of classic arcade titles given a jolt of modernity this is absolutely one worth checking out.

Aggelos [LookAtMyGame] - Rocking great 16-bit-ish looks, some great chiptune tracks, and plenty of retro gaming feels Aggelos is definitely a title classic gaming fans should adore. Rather than being a remake or a reskin of known classics it feels like a game you’ve always regretted missing out on from that era that you’ve now gotten the chance to finally enjoy. As long as you’re prepared for some of its more old school tendencies and challenges it’s an adventure well worth taking.

Blaster Master Zero 2 [Inti Creates] - Determined not to let itself get in a rut and become too predictable, Zero 2 is a rewarding walk through nostalgia while not being content to limit itself to dated design and mechanics. While not all of the new planets and challenges you encounter may be to your liking, to the game’s credit they change things up with enough regularity that any disappointments aren’t likely to last long and you’ll likely feel better about what’s around the corner. If you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for the original, or have just been looking for a diverse and well-crafted retro-style challenge, it is a satisfying adventure.

Blazing Chrome [JoyMasher] - As a huge fan of the classic arcade run n’ gun shooters I hold Contra in very high regard, so it’s always a thrill when someone manages to put out a title that can give it a run for its money. While there have been some titles that have nailed the retro look of this iconic series most have come up a bit short in the feel department, never quite capturing the level of difficulty, variety, and hard core gunning action that made it legendary. Armed with a variety of weapons and crucial power-ups you’ll be hard pressed to get through to the end as you’ll need to overcome swarms of enemies, some tricky traversals, and tough bosses. However, if you’ve been thirsting for something that kicks you down and makes you keep coming back for more this title absolutely delivers.

Chiki-Chiki Boxy Pro Wrestling [Orgesta] - While I haven’t played a wrestling game in years, back in the day it was fun to throw down with some buddies for some arcade-style mat action. Boxy Pro Wrestling is a pretty big love letter to those days and that style of play, keeping things pretty simple but still offering up variety and a fun wrestler customization mode. The core button presses may be the same for every wrestler but what you execute can vary quite a bit. As you get further through the circuits you’ll unlock not only new core wrestlers to play with but also currency, aesthetic elements, and moves that will allow you to create a wrestler to work with that not only suits your sense of flair but your fighting style as well. While it isn’t terribly deep and may not be as much fun to play solo, if you’ve got some friends to play with locally or matchmaking remains viable for online play, this can be a pretty fun time for a reasonable price.

Demon's Tilt [Flarb] - Pinball is absolutely a cornerstone of retro gaming so I’m always excited to see what people come up with to celebrate it. Normally my preferences tend to run to loving recreations of classic physical tables but in the tradition of even some Nintendo titles over the years “video pinball” has a legitimate place as well. Demon’s Tilt is very much a game with that style in mind, featuring elements that could never happen in physical form, but still adhering to familiar core mechanics to put together a unique and often challenging experience. Granted, there’s only this one scrolling main table, though it does have alternative play areas and plenty to learn, but it’s going to take some time and experimentation to tease out all of its secrets. While it can be a challenge to keep track of the ball when the action gets quick and intense Demon’s Tilt offers up a pretty intense and unique experience on Switch and is easy to recommend to any retro gaming fans out there.

Dragon's Lair Trilogy [Digital Leisure] - Dirk the Daring and Dexter are back, and bringing their reference-quality classic arcade laserdisc gameplay to the Switch. While not everyone may be a fan of the somewhat stilted play that results from the way these games worked there’s no denying that the ability to virtually play a feature-quality cartoon was pretty cool. Both Dragon’s Lair and its sequel as well as the very different Space Ace are represented in all of their glory and even lacking the trademark pauses you used to experience as the next clip was loading.

Fight 'N Rage [sebagamesdev] - After many years where the classic beat-em-up wasn’t getting much representation indie developers have really begun to rejuvenate the genre. While there have been a variety of takes on things, adhering almost too much to the old formula to shaking things up significantly, Fight’N Rage shows a great deal of reverence for the classic feel of titles like Final Fight without copying it too much, and throws in some great combos and variety that helps keep the fighting feel a bit less stale. That’s already a pretty tempting package for brawler fans but then, best of all, it comes in at a very fair price, has multiple characters who each have their own feel, and features loads of unlocks to help you refine the aesthetics for a little more fun. A great beat-em-up well worth your time!

Milkmaid of the Milky Way [machineboy] - When it comes to adventure games, the Switch is very well (and possibly too well) represented. The good news tied to that is the fact that there are a great number of options and styles to choose from for genre fans. As many as I’ve played on the system I’m pleased to say that Milkmaid of the Milky Way simply feels a bit different. It has come over from a mobile space so it is relatively straightforward with a point and click interface and not a lot of clutter. Puzzles are creative without too often being convoluted and confusing, seeming to hit a sweet spot where you’ll need to make some leaps of faith but may not feel like you absolutely have to consult a guide periodically to avoid screaming. Throw in a budget-friendly price and the few hours this will take you makes for a satisfying bite of quirk and charm.

Pig Eat Ball [Mommy's Best Games] - When a game comes along that has classic arcade-style sensibilities and it is just plain weird it is pretty well sure to get my attention. On both fronts Pig Eat Ball delivers, with an oddball experience and a ton of levels that are reminiscent of classics like Pac-Man but with a weirdo take and a bit more strategy involved. You see, the issue is that as you consume more balls you’ll continue to get more rotund, which can then restrict you from getting around. The solution? Throw them back up, of course. This makes for some entertainment as well as quite a bit of strategy as you try to complete the level objectives as quickly as possible yet for the most part your available skills are limited. Where the fun really kicks into gear is with the game’s sheer variety of settings and variations of levels, you really never can know quite what to expect, and that’s what really put the experience over the top for me.

Strikey Sisters [DYA Games] - For people who are willing to get over the initial hump of getting used to Strikey Sisters there’s plenty of challenging stages and bosses to conquer. In general, there aren’t many titles emulating the classic Breakout, and among the ones I’ve played this is probably the most unique and interesting, but it’s also probably the toughest as well. While it won’t be for everyone it’s a fresh and unique offering in the Switch eShop.

Super Crate Box [Vlambeer] - It’s always very cool to encounter games that have simple designs and very few rules but then manage to be so well-implemented that they suck up your time. Super Crate Box is such a game, one that I was introduced to at PAX and that I was eager to spend more time with on release. At its core this is an arcade platform shooter where your goal is to survive and beat your highest score, the trick is that shooting enemies doesn’t move that needle, only picking up new crates advances your score. The hitch? You never know what weapon that will give you. It could be relatively weak sauce weapons you’ll struggle to hold enemies at bay with, it could be something powerful that you may want to keep long enough to help get the situation under control, or it could be a weapon like the Disc Gun that represents as much of a threat to you as your enemies. Throw in an endless flow of bad guys and a relentless pace and this is one of the best pick-up-and-put-down budget titles on the Switch, offering you a quick hit of action that consistently delivers a challenge that feels great for a single playthrough or perhaps a string of an hour or more if you’re determined to get further than you have before.

Switch 'N' Shoot [Matt Glanville] - Overall, Switch ‘N’ Shoot appears to have had a very focused vision for its design that was well-implemented. It’s simple but challenging, easy to pick up and put down but compelling in a “just one more run” sort of way. Throw in a look and style that would make it feel perfectly at home among the classics of the early arcade era (including freaking fantastic side art that nails the retro feel) and you have a solid budget retro arcade shooter that’s well worth checking out.

Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan [Collectorvision] - Going old school can be a risky proposition at times, but when it is done right the results can be rewarding as well as nostalgic (at least for people like me). Sydney Hunter is an action platformer with a retro 8-bit look and at times a degree of challenge also reminiscent of days gone by. Your job is to explore, avoid traps and creatures who’ll do you harm, and pretty well to always be on the lookout for cracked blocks that you can swipe to reveal hidden collectibles. If you’re not good at spotting such blocks the game unfortunately gets significantly more frustrating as it will make you backtrack far more, and that’s not so fun. However, if you’ve got the itch to grab your whip and tackle thirteen stages of ancient temples in search of fortune and glory it’s a retro romp well worth checking out.

YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG [Ackkstudios] - As a whole while I found YIIK thoroughly different and quirky a fun way I can also see where those traits likely make it a love / hate proposition for people. If you’re really hoping for a more traditional experience you’ll likely be frustrated with the entire package, story, combat, and all. If, however, you have the indie spirit and appreciate experiments that may not always pan out but that are at least fresh this could really click for you as well. At least being able to somewhat relate to and understand the attitudes of some characters and the game’s approach I found it to be fun and I’d be fascinated to see what will come next from this developer having been provided feedback on this this title and running with that to try out something in a similar vein.

Hyper Sentinel [Four5Six Pixel] - With the heart of a game pulled from the 80s but production values and visual enhancements that help give it modern flair Hyper Sentinel is a load of fun. Inspired quite a bit by the classic shooter Uridium you'll be attacking a large ship and trying to take it down while fighting off it's defenses, working to rack up combos and maximize your score.

R-Type Dimensions EX [Southend Interactive] - I really appreciate the love and effort into bringing the R-Type experience to the Switch. While playing it old school has a nostalgic appeal seeing it all gussied up in 3D is a blast. I’d say it’s worth experimenting with the various looks they offer as not all of them may be great or practical, but they can be novel. In particular the 3D Crazy Camera looks really cool, just since it affects your depth perception a bit I don’t know if it’s practical in some sections. All said though it offers up many ways to experience the same terrific core game and fans of classic arcade shooting action should have a great time with it, and quickly become reacquainted with how tough it can be.

Crawl [Powerhoof] - Probably one of the most balanced and creative local multiplayer competitive games I've played Crawl does a whole lot right, setting the stage for frantic fun with you and up to 3 friends. Each of you is trying to play as the hero, set on reaching Level 10, facing the final boss, and escaping the dungeons. The trick is that everyone else will play as spirits, capable of triggering traps or summoning monsters to try to bring the hero down. As the hero levels up to maintain balance the spirits are given wrath points that they can use to upgrade their monsters to make them decidedly more lethal. What's fun is how the dynamic among the spirit players quickly shifts from being cooperative at first to a free-for-all as the heroes health wanes, with each wanting to strike the killing blow to take over and have their shot at glory. Inventive and intense fun for a group of competitive friends!

Hammerwatch [Crackshell] - While many games have tried to emulate the look and feel of Gauntlet over the years I don’t think any that I’ve played have nailed it quite as well, overall, as Hammerwatch. Through the game’s two beefy campaigns I was thoroughly sucked in by the action and the various puzzles and hidden rooms had me scouring every corner of the maps for secrets. If you’ve had an itch for a quality action-oriented dungeon crawler that is also very accessible it is easy to recommend.

Slime-San [Fabraz] - While some may think it has looks only a mother could love the challenging and satisfying platforming offered by Slime-San is worth getting acquainted for. Each zone has its own theme and each screen presents a serious challenge, especially for completionists. As you progress you'll have the opportunity to unlock additional slimes to help suit your personal style a little better and you'll need to be comfortable as the boss battles have a tendency to get challenging. Inventive and having some mechanics all its own it is well worth picking up. Even better the DLC packs for it are both free so there's even more content to be enjoyed for the reasonable price of admission.

6Souls [BUG-Studio] - When you’re looking for something to kill some hours on a budget it’s really easy to appreciate the ability of the indie gaming space to deliver some fun on the cheap. While 6Souls is by no means an amazing puzzle platformer, it’s hard to be too terribly harsh on it when the asking price is so reasonable. Very much playing out in a traditional style, the challenge will be working with what reasonably limited techniques you have to get through levels and hopefully try to pick up as many additional pick-ups as you can as you go. While not generally in the “frequent rage quits” class of difficulty, there are definitely spots where you’ll need to work a little harder than is typical, especially if you’re trying to grab everything you can on each level. While its combat is on the weak and limited side, the platforming controls are at least reasonably responsive, and while it will hardly win any awards it’s a very affordable pick-up that will keep you occupied for a few hours.

Asteroids: Recharged [SneakyBox] - These Atari classic reduces have been interesting, if sometimes a bit underwhelming, but one constant that Asteroids reiterates is that the core gameplay devised decades ago now still fundamentally does hold up well. For the most part this is what you’d expect, with you piloting a ship, shooting asteroids and UFOs, trying to stay alive as long as you can and typically not wanting to fly around too much since you’ll need to counter your momentum if you want to stop and the edges of the screen tend to be deadly. Also consistent with the series, power-ups have been added to the mix, and since they come along randomly from run to run things can vary pretty wildly. Since the main mode and chasing that leaderboard may not be enough, quite a number of challenge levels are also there to test you, which helps to round out the package and help make it feel like a worthwhile budget purchase for arcade shooting fans.

Black Widow: Recharged [SneakyBox] - As someone who, oddly, never actually played Black Widow back in the day, I want to be up front that unlike many classic arcade refreshes in this case I have no potential for rose-colored feelings over this redux. In some ways that’s a shame, since I think it’s at more of a disadvantage than its Recharged brethren, but since it’s ultimately a twin-stick shooter I’ve still obviously got thoughts. I like the use of the theme, with you playing the part of a spider in her web, and you’re shooting at various assorted bugs who pose a few different threats to you which you’ll have to quickly recognize and react to accordingly to stay alive. The randomness of the power-ups you’ll be able to leverage really crank up the arcade unpredictability factor, sometimes bailing you out when you need a save, and other times not so much. The addition of the challenge stages, consistent with the Recharged series, also adds nicely to variety and longevity as it will throw different objectives at you to conquer. In the end, for a budget price, it’s reasonably good, but I would be remiss not to note the preponderance of great twin-stick shooters out there on the eShop and though this has a novel theme I wouldn’t say it breaks away to distinguish itself among its competitors. One comment I will make is the one-life style of it makes for some frustratingly brief runs where you have no opportunity to bounce back, a bad break lingering near the edge without helpful power-ups you may just end up needing to start over.

Cotton Reboot! [Sangatu Usagi no Mori] - If you like your older-school arcade shooting challenging, a bit on the cute side, and with an undeniable weird streak this refresh may catch your eye. While it generally looks and feels like it follows the normal arcade shooter rules, the places where it deviates will force you to play things a bit more aggressively and dangerously than the norm. In general, though it's probably a better match for shooter veterans, the quirkiness of the experience may also appeal to people who simply love imported titles and their unique flavor you simply don't get from the mainstream American market.

Knights & Guns [Baltoro Games] - Back in the arcades, Pang (or Buster Bros) was one of the more interesting shooters out there that did things its own way and layered puzzling sensibilities into the mix. Firing only vertically the challenge was to shoot enemies, often breaking them up into smaller ones, and knocking them all out through a combination of skill and some very useful periodic power-ups. Knights & Guns was absolutely conceived in this mold while bringing some of its own style to the table, with a well-defined art style, an overworld where you’ll choose where to go and that opens the door to side quests, and a variety of stage types that will keep you on your toes. Even though some of the innovations are appreciated, and help K&G stand out from the pack, there are still some problems that hold it back. First and foremost would be the lack of tight precision in movement, and perhaps that your character is on the chonky side. Getting hit unintentionally due to either of those factors is in itself annoying but then given the precision associated with this style of shooter it further frustrates matters. While I appreciate the idea of changing things up the scaling changing from level to level, with the action either being zoomed in or out and some levels having quite a bit of verticality, in practice it makes the experience feel uneven and conceptually all over the place. I don’t doubt it will find an audience with some shooter fans, but within this sub-genre there are definitely better options already out there in the eShop.

Narita Boy [Studio Koba] - With an old school cinematic action adventure feel and dripping with neon-lit nostalgic ooze I have no doubt that Narita Boy is targeted squarely at people like me who practically grew up in the arcades. While this isn’t a terribly long adventure, I’ll give it credit for generally keeping a steady flow of new things to experience as you go, never giving itself much time to feel stale… which is very much appreciated since side-scrolling slashers like this can tend to get repetitive quickly. The thing is, even with all of the formidable charm it brings to the table I can’t put a finger on what made it a good time but not necessarily a great one in my eyes, even knowing it would seem on paper to be made for people like me. Certainly any time there was platforming involved the floaty jumping and somewhat loose overall controls were a bit of a bummer, followed up by what I’d say was a lack of clarity at times for where you were meant to be going or what you were meant to be doing. Overall these are pretty small complaints, and don’t manage to knock the game out of being worthwhile, but I’d say they’re worth considering as you get drawn in by its lush and stylized visuals.

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark [Spooky Doorway] - The classic point-and-click adventure Renaissance is really quite a thing to witness, and it is quirky and funny titles that The Darkside Detective that help not just to keep that spirit alive by existing, but by being a genuinely good time as well. While the overall length of time you’ll be playing may not be as extensive as in some titles, there’s something satisfying about the broken out 6 case structure… sort of breaking things down into 6 satisfying bites of maybe an hour and change or less (depending on your process and whether you savor every item’s descriptions) depending. If you miss the silly adventures of yesteryear or simply would like a good laugh (or 10) this is an easy title to recommend.

Crimzon Clover: World EXplosion [Yotsubane] - If you’re a fan of arcade-style shmups you’ve been pretty well served on the Switch as the library of classic and new titles has gotten to be impressive. In the case of Crimzon Clover you can add yet another to the list. Featuring intense screens absolutely full of chaos representing your own substantial firepower and that of your enemies it will put your bullet-dodging to the test without it being an outright bullet hell title. The 3 initial ships, as the additional one that can be unlocked, aren’t majorly different from one another but they are each worth trying in order to find the feel that suits you best. The key to success very much seems to be using your lock-on and bombs consistently and often in order to keep replenishing your break meter, which allows you to unleash hell on your enemies. I was impressed by how well the game performed, never really slowing down no matter how many enemies, bullets, and stars were filling the screen at once. I’d say the wonky and inefficient way you need to access the online leaderboards is the most disappointing aspect of the game, why those can’t be front and center moreso I’m not sure and it does knock down the motivation to continue to play a bit. However, if you’re a big fan of arcade shooting grab your Flip Grip (to play in vertical mode, of course), sit back, and enjoy!

Disc Room [Terri, Dose, Kitty, and JW] - As a self-avowed lover of the classic days of arcade games a title like Disc Room makes almost perfect sense to me, though I’ll admit not everyone may be as eager to latch on to its unusual concept. Your goal is simply survival while trying to unlock new rooms in a remote base near the planet Jupiter. Your obstacle? A wide variety of absolutely lethal bladed discs of all sorts of shapes and sizes that will cut you in half on contact. Lacking a means to simply shoot or punch your way out of this situation all you’re really left with is running like hell and leveraging those dormant crazy dodging skills you’ve been building up through all of your years of gaming. In order to progress you’ll need to complete all sorts of objectives, starting with obvious things like surviving for a certain amount of time, but then including more unusual ones that reward failure like dying to as many different types of discs as possible. Thankfully as you get further you’ll also gain some new abilities that will make things a little bit easier but that won’t change the fact that to be successful you’ll need to be a dodging prodigy. That may not make it for everyone but for action junkies it’s a good time.

DOOM 64 [Night Dive Studios] - While I’ve played many iterations of DOOM over the years going back to the original shareware the N64 incarnation of it was one that I’d missed out on. I’d always heard that it was solid and did things a little bit in its own way and having played it I’d tend to agree. Something about the level layouts feels a bit more intricate (though you could also call them confusing, to be fair) than what I associate with the original DOOM iterations, and the quasi-3D look is at least interesting which at the time I’m sure it helped the game to stand out nicely. While there’s no doubt going back to the earlier style of FPS play feels a bit odd I’d say among the throwback titles in the genre I’ve played this is the most successful and accessible of the bunch, managing to avoid being utterly painful as many tend to be by being about as highly evolved as the genre got before moving on to the fully 3D world of Quake and many others. Recommended for those seeking a look back at the genre’s earlier days that has the best hopes of not shattering any rose-colored memories of how great shooters used to be.

Dustoff Z [Invictus] - Somewhat of following the general concept that anything can be reinvigorated and possibly improved with the inclusion of zombies we have Dustoff Z, which reaches back to the likes of the classic Choplifter for inspiration while throwing in modern progression and conveniences as well. You’ll initially control what is literally a cobbled together chopper, taking on missions where you’ll need to rescue civilians, grab some essential supplies, and occasionally take on some massive monstrosities. As you go you’ll unlock better gear, gain access to different human companions who can act as gunners or provide other necessary help, and pimp out your ride a little bit if you’d like. In spots success can require some grinding to get a crucial upgrade or two but while the idea remains relatively simple the zombies and levels themselves tend to have surprises every once in a while that prompt a giggle or perhaps even a yell. If you enjoy old school arcade-like challenges with a few modern touches thrown in you’ll likely have a good time with this one.

Ion Fury [Voidpoint, LLC] - Titles that don’t just tap heavily into nostalgia but fully embrace it are always a risky proposition. There’s something magic in playing a game that takes you back to an earlier time through look, feel, and general design… but the question is then whether that same experience can keep you engaged for the long haul. Ion Fury, without a doubt, absolutely recaptures the essence of the original Duke Nukem 3D and its contemporaries with its look, sound, and general style. If you didn’t know any better you could feel like it was a long lost game made with that engine you somehow missed. The thing is that’s both a testament to the reverence the developers of Ion Fury have for that era and, depending on what you’re looking for, where the game’s greatest weakness lies. To have the experience be complete in general terms the level designs and layouts also feel authentic to that era, and in that area I could have used more modern sensibilities. Key cards and hidden areas randomly peppered about that have vital gear you may need are hallmarks of that era but they now feel very antiquated and are harder to embrace, even for the sake of nostalgia. If you’ve never played games from that era this may be the best way to enjoy them in spirit on a modern console, without a doubt. If those games were your jam and you’re willing to deal with elements that have aged poorly it also shouldn’t disappoint. Just be mindful that going back can be a lot of fun for a bit but consider how much fun you’ll think you’ll have once the novelty wears off.

Jet Set Knights [Ratalaika Games] - This is absolutely one of those titles that sort of shows up out of the woodwork and gives you a pleasant surprise… at least if you’re an old-school arcade aficionado like I am and can appreciate the simple but effective gameplay. Your goal is simply to protect the queen (princess?) who is at the bottom center of the on-screen castle using whatever means are available to you. Starting only with a trusty sword you’ll get the opportunity to use several weapons and abilities, some of which are even very powerful, in order to hold off a steady flow of enemies who would do her harm. I do wish there was at least some more minimal instruction initially as item icons and some other aspects require some trial and error to understand for their proper use, but since there’s simply not that much to it I suppose it doesn’t take that long to get the hang of things. Since what you get varies each time through you’ll need to simply be ready to improvise and do your best to survive through wave after wave. It’s not going to change the world but it honestly feels like it could have been a contemporary of some classic arcade games back in the day, which is admirable.

Spinch [Queen Bee Games] - When I was in kindergarten I saw the movie The Yellow Submarine, and though I was far too young to really process what was in front of me it certainly left an impression. Very quickly, Spinch managed to give me flashbacks to that experience with its vibrant colors, weirdo enemies, and generally cheery overall feel. Oh, but this game is a very tricksy Hobbit indeed, as once you get a few levels in the surprises and challenges start to kick in. While it looks pretty innocent (though thoroughly weird) to get through some levels in this game you’re going to have to grit your teeth, dig in, and make an investment with your patience. There aren’t very many controls to master, just a jump and a dash, but their timing and combination together have more nuance than you’d assume and you’ll need to be on top of that nuance if you want to get through periodic tough spots. Having far more variety and depth than its trippy visuals would imply, this is a surprising (and pretty affordable) treat for platforming fans willing to take a chance on it.

Starlit Adventures: Golden Stars [Rockhead Games] - I love it when indie titles show up that I’ve never seen or heard of and they end up being a pleasant surprise. That’s precisely the case with Starlit Adventures, a game that looks almost too cute for its own good but quickly demonstrates it packs in some fun arcade-style play in akin to the likes of the classic Dig-Dug or Mr. Driller… but with some of its own flair as well. The gameplay is a mixture of puzzle and action as you dig your way down, trying to grab keys, coins, and stars as they appear as well as taking out enemies when necessary. While this as a base is pretty enjoyable what then livens things up a bit is that there’s also a pretty wide variety of gear you can choose to run levels in, giving you some quite a number of different perks that can be critical if your goal is to grab every star on every level. The mixture of classic play, some smart puzzling, a variety of fun surprises along the way, and a great (though perhaps a bit sickeningly cute) art style really made this game sneak up on me and made me a fan!

Willy Jetman: Astromonkey's Revenge [Last Chicken Games] - With so many retro indie titles that have replicated the feel and experience of such a wide variety of classic genres and styles it’s always a bit surprising when you stumble onto one that still feels somewhat unique. Willy Jetman is a surprise budget-friendly platforming shooter that does just that, making you work with your jetpack and a variety of weapons as you progress to complete stages in an alien landscape. Hidden and tough-to-reach areas are quite plentiful, but don’t be surprised when you’ll find some of them pretty challenging to survive as well. Thankfully, for the most part save points are plentiful and well-spaced enough that it generally doesn’t feel unfair, but if you’re determined to find and grab everything in the game be ready for a pleasantly consistent challenge. Whether avoiding a variety of types of traps or taking on some tough creatures, some of which may require a little experimentation and strategy to take down, you should find plenty of opportunity to work for your progress. All in all this is one of those pleasant surprise titles that I didn’t find out about until it arrived in my inbox and I’m glad I decided to take it for a spin, it’s a very retro-feeling treat that should please people looking for a fair challenge!

Cursed Castilla EX [Locomalito] - While the game’s style and degree of challenge may make it more of a niche title, for people who’ve been thirsting for a worthy Ghouls ‘n Ghosts successor in general Cursed Castilla nails it. Managing to find a balance between showing reverence and still being its own distinct game the developers did a great job of walking that tightrope effectively. If you don’t mind there being many deaths on the way to success as you work your way through it, there’s plenty of great arcade action to enjoy here.

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors [NATSUME ATARI Inc] - While it got off to a little bit of a slow start the Switch has been blessed with a ton of great beat-em-ups to choose from, and especially for fans of the original arcade title Ninja Saviors is a strong addition to the list. You’ll pick your ninja, each of which has their own variation in play style, and then take on a load of challenging side-scrolling slashing action. Especially for retro fans showing respect for the original game is critical, and there’s no doubt that Saviors does this, absolutely delivering what feels like an authentic sequel to the arcade classic original. Depending on how you approach the game this could be viewed either as a strength or a weakness. The game’s strictly side-to-side movement and combat are authentic, and I’m sure there’s a crowd thirsting for the simultaneous simplicity and challenge it brings, but even moreso than games where you have more ability to move around it does make much of the “filler” combat while you progress to the challenging boss fights feel generic. If you’re playing co-op with a friend this can still make for a lot of fun, and if you enjoy this more classic style you’ll likely be in heaven, but the more modern your tastes are it may feel a bit limited.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove [Humanature Studios] - This is very much a title where you’ll either choose to embrace the funkiness and odd pacing for how unique they are or you’ll probably have strong negative feelings about it. It’s not quite like anything else you’ve likely played but at the same time there may be a good reason for that since it can feel very random at times, focused more on its gags and weirdness than on compelling gameplay. I actually am finding it very difficult to score as where there’s normally some sort of standard to evaluate against with this title it’s just so far out there that it defies comparison. If you’re a fan of the original it’s absolutely worth checking out, beyond that you’ll just need to take a look at the gameplay and see if the game’s pacing and sense of humor suit you.

Fox N Forests [Bonus Level Entertainment] - Overall, Fox N Forests truly feels like a lost game from the the Early 90s that you could plug into your SNES and it would seem right at home on all levels. Of course for people who aren’t looking for that hit of nostalgia or are generally unfamiliar with that era this may not be a great fit. However, if you’ve been itching for something satisfies your sense of nostalgia and can dig in to the total experience it’s a welcome reminder of how beautiful pixel art games can be.

Grim Fandango [Double Fine Productions] - Much like a very different classic released on Switch, Another World, though it can be pretty easy to see and appreciate what made the title so revered that isn’t to say some aspects of it have aged well. The interactions and humor certainly have a certain timeless quality to them but mechanically there’s no question it’s all a bit clunky now. If you’re a classic adventure fan looking to reminisce or a true Adventure genre lover who wants to take some time to appreciate a cornerstone title in the genre Grim Fandango Remastered is well worth a look but for just about everyone else it may be too aggravatingly dated to be worthwhile.

Horizon Shift '81 [Flump Studios] - Overall, as a vintage gamer, I’m not sure how to convey how thoroughly impressed I am with Horizon Shift ‘81. While its looks are thoroughly of the earlier era of arcade action its gameplay is absolutely modern and extremely challenging, but in a way that puts a smile on my face. With decades that have elapsed since that era I’m shocked at how many new ideas and refinements have been made in this game, combining things in ways I can’t recall ever seeing before. If you’re a big fan of arcade shooters you owe it to yourself to check this one out!

Raging Justice [MakinGames] - If you're a massive fan of the classic beat-em-ups of the 80s there may not be a game that's more of a love letter to those titles than Raging Justice. Full of winks and nods to titles like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Pit Fighter, and more this combo-focused brawler will have you trying to reclaim the streets using one of 3 characters that each have their own unique strengths and play styles.

Rogue Aces [Infinite State Games] - While there are elements of Rogue Aces that work well, and I can appreciate the effort put into setting up some variations with multiple modes, I also found it better suited to short and moderately-long play sessions over long ones. A periodic break helped to keep it all from feeling quite so repetitive. Aside from the challenges with landing I think the balance strays too quickly to the extremes rather than having a tough but more fair sweet spot in the middle. Either I’d have a run in the Normal Campaign that ran long and felt too easy or I’d go to the Frontline Campaign and have significant leaps in difficulty by about the third island. There are some fun and crazy moments to be had like the first time you jump from your damaged plane into the cockpit of an enemy fighter to give yourself a new lease on life, but in the end there’s not all that much variety. If you’ve been itching for something that feels very arcade-like, this can be fun, but if you were hoping for something deep it doesn’t fare as well.

Saturday Morning RPG [Joystick Labs, LLC] - If you’d like a trip down the 80s memory lane with some decent RPG gameplay layered on top you probably will enjoy Saturday Morning RPG, warts and all. The jokes are punny, some of the renaming to protect the innocent is clever, but the experience really hinges on how you react to this. If you reject it there’s pretty well no chance it will be fun, but if you embrace it there’s just enough there to keep it consistently entertaining. This feels like an experience that hit its target objectives well, just by its nature it’s a thoroughly niche experience so enjoyment is in the eye of the beholder.

Save Me Mr. Tako! [Christophe Galati] - All in all Save Me Mr. Tako is a surprisingly lengthy and challenging title, much moreso than its cute, almost Kirby-like, retro looks would imply. For the most part it works well playing in bursts as many levels take just a few minutes to complete, though as the difficulty rises it may take a few attempts. Completionists will really need to work to grab all of the hats in the game, keeping track of various locations and details you encounter that will lead you to new areas. If you don’t mind some cheap hits and are up for a retro challenge Mr. Tako should keep you busy for a while.

Sky Rogue [Fractal Phase] - As a whole package, Sky Rogue is very attractive in a very retro-esque kind of way and manages to set itself apart from the other aerial combat titles already on the system. With its focus generally concerning larger and tougher targets, rather than skirmishes with other smaller and quicker aircraft, it’s more of a planning and execution title than a “seat of your pants” one. You can certainly be reckless and try to make an aggressive run while ignoring everything but your target but that strategy only works for so long before you’ll get lit up badly. If you’re looking for a wide variety of aerial combat that’s a little lower on thrills per minute but can be satisfying in its more methodical nature Sky Rogue is a solid option.

The Adventures of Elena Temple [GrimTalin] - Retro games can be really challenging to get ""just right"", somehow toeing the line between being true to vintage gameplay and being trapped by it. With platforming action that took me back to my Atari 5200 and Commodore 64 days Elena Temple managed to be a nostalgic rush but also, aside from its pixel graphics looks, managed to feel at home as a modern game as well. With a bite-sized length to match its budget price this is a game any retro fan should thoroughly enjoy.

Toki [Microids] - If you’re a fan of the original Toki, or at least classic arcade-style games, this gorgeous remaster is pretty easy to recommend as long as you keep in mind that it’s a visual overhaul on an old game, flaws and all. A few new wrinkles of issues with differentiating foreground from background have been added in places but otherwise this game looks outstanding and plays faithfully to the original at the same time. As long as you keep your expectations in check and appreciate older arcade quarter-sucking sensibilities it can be a good time, for a little while at least.

Wild Guns Reloaded [NATSUME ATARI Inc] - Overall, there are actually a number of things I enjoy and appreciate about Wild Guns Reloaded, and I think it is a style of shooter that deserves more attempts to get right. The variety in characters was a great move and, for people who enjoy the game, it definitely provides a motivation to play through it multiple times since at least 3 of the experiences would feel quite different from one another. Perhaps people reading reviews will be better armed with knowledge before playing to overcome the needless learning curve hump, but even once you feel like you’ve got it under control that isn’t to say the control style doesn’t have its flaws. However, if you’re an old school arcade shooter fan, and are familiar with the games that inspired it, Wild Guns Reloaded is a pretty fun and nostalgic trip with just enough things it does differently that it sets itself apart, for better or worse.

This list will continue to grow and be pruned as time goes on, as well as numerous other lists that try to keep track of all of the best titles the Nintendo Switch has to offer in the Indie space!